Thursday, April 3, 2014

In the Right Place At the Right Time

"A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good it is." Prov. 15:23 "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver." Prov. 25:11

I never cease to be amazed at how easy it is lose one's sense of timing, especially when it comes to speaking. We become so eager to "share" that we don't take into consideration either the hearer or the setting. It may not be a matter of casting "pearls before swine" (Matt. 7:6), or giving "strong meat" to immature believers (Heb. 5:14); but still, approaching someone with either words of comfort or rebuke can be unwanted in the first case and ineffective in the second. It all depends on the person, time, and place.

The word picture painted for us in Proverbs 25:11 speaks of the right place or setting. Notice the beauty of the "apples of gold" are perfectly set off by the "pictures of silver," perhaps speaking of the background or frame. The golden apples would not be nearly as eye-catching on a dingy cloth or in a rough, wooden frame.

The verse in Proverbs fifteen tells us that like so many things in the Bible, there is a "due season" to be acknowledged. To me, this speaks not only of the right hour, day, or month, but even the right conversation. For instance, to use the occasion of an individual's mistake to point out past failures only lessens the possibility of change in the mind of the offender. Also, when we draw people aside when they're busy, pleasantly occupied, or in the company of friends is to guarantee half-hearted listening or response to our "words of wisdom." And when someone is hurting physically, emotionally, or spiritually, even the kindest, well-meaning words of comfort or advice can be grating, especially if the individual is feeling overwhelmed or misunderstood.

They often say of someone who knows how to speak cogently and fluently that he or she is "well-spoken"; but as far as I'm concerned, the truly well-spoken individual is the man or woman whose words are "fitly spoken," at the prompting of the Holy Spirit. They fit perfectly at the right time and in the right place. And by the way, I have said, "words," plural; but the texts say "word," singular. That at least tells us that brevity should be our watchword. Many a promising conversation has been drowned by too many words.

The phrase, "tongue of the learned," comes from Isaiah 50:4, where we're told it is given to be used at the right time, for one reason only:

"The Lord hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary..."

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